When I think about why the protecting the Arctic Refuge matters to me, what first comes to mind isn’t the vast herd of caribou that rely on the refuge, or the polar bears whose icy habitat is shrinking every year, or the ancient Gwich’in people who have survived on that unspoiled landscape since time immemorial. They are all deeply important reasons for saving the Arctic Refuge, but they’re not what I think of first.

Instead, I think of my grandson Thadeus, whose first birthday is just a few days away. I think about what kind of world he’ll grow up in. Will it be one where we’ve spoiled our last, best wilderness in an attempt to feed our nation’s deepening addiction to oil and gas? Or will it be one where we’ve curtailed that addiction through conservation and technology, while leaving my grandson, and yours, the natural legacy they deserve?

Make no mistake: the Arctic Refuge fight is about much more than protecting a pristine sliver of Alaska’s coast, as important as that is. It is about the inheritance we intend to leave our children. We can drill in the Arctic Refuge and saddle our children with our debt – the debt of fossil fuel addiction, global warming, and scarred landscapes. Or we can leave them a gift that we know in our hearts is their rightful due — a cleaner, safer, more secure world, one that respects a place for wildlife and nature.

Either way, the impact of what we decide will be felt long after we’re gone. That’s why we must hold our leaders accountable now, while there’s still time to change course.

Thank you for doing your part — for yourself, for your children, and for Thadeus.